Four State Senators File Bill to Create a School of Public Health for New Mexico

Bill calls for appropriate of $75 million to jump start a change in the state’s commitment to Public Health

Four state senators, all chairs of legislative committees, filed what many health experts consider landmark legislation creating and staffing a school of public health for New Mexico.

SB 119, drafted by Senators Jerry Ortiz y Pino, George Munoz, Martin Hickey, MD, and Joseph Cervantes, calls for the appropriation of $75 million for the new endeavor.

While the state’s two major universities have public health programs – New Mexico State University’s Public Health Program at the Department of Health Services, and the University of New Mexico’s Master of Public Health Program at its College of Population Health – the state does not have a full-fledged school of public health like a number of neighboring states have created over the years.

It appears from the legislation that both universities will participate in staffing the new school once it is developed.

The UNM Health Sciences Center would be the anchor agency for this higher education expansion, with the UNM Board of Regents receiving $50 million “to plan, design, construct, improve, renovate, furnish and equip facilities for a school of public health at the university of New Mexico health sciences center.”

Both UNM and NMSU would receive $20 million and $5 million respectively, “for salaries, operational expenses and program development for a school of public health at the university of New Mexico health sciences center” according to the language in the bill.

More to come on this developing story.